Woman claims chain fired her when she brought concerns to SPCA

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Barb Sweet
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A woman claims she was fired by Petcetera because of concerns small animals might be euthanized due to the bankruptcy of the chain.

Melissa White worked at the Kelsey Drive, St. John's, store for three months. She said when it became clear the chain was in receivership, it was indicated to staff the store would close and any leftover pets - birds, hamsters and other small creatures - who were not sold would be euthanized.

Melissa White, a former employee of Petcetera on Kelsey Drive in St. Johns, is seen here with her five-year-old boxer Lexie outside the store Monday afternoon. Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

A woman claims she was fired by Petcetera because of concerns small animals might be euthanized due to the bankruptcy of the chain.

Melissa White worked at the Kelsey Drive, St. John's, store for three months. She said when it became clear the chain was in receivership, it was indicated to staff the store would close and any leftover pets - birds, hamsters and other small creatures - who were not sold would be euthanized.

So she phoned the SPCA for advice.

Then, White said, an e-mail came from head office, inquiring who had contacted the SPCA.

"The next day on my way to go to work, I was almost through the door when the manager met me outside. She said she had to fire me for calling the SPCA," White said Monday.

The store has a sign indicating it is having a closing sale.

"We were told that any animals left at the end of close would be euthanized - we weren't to give away any of the animals. All I did was call the SPCA and ask their opinion of what should be done with animals at close of business,"

White, who took a veterinary assistant's course, said she had no complaints against her at the store to warrant firing.

Petcetera doesn't directly sell dogs and cats but it does have hamsters, birds and there was one rabbit in the store, White said.

"I don't think there should be chain (pet) stores," she said.

The store manager would not discuss the matter. "We have no comment on anything right now," the manager said.

SPCA shelter manager Debbie Powers wasn't familiar with the issue, nor had she heard directly of a call from White.

But she said if the store is closing, it should ask for some advice on who the SPCA could recommend to place the small animals.

Provincial veterinarian Hugh Whitney was not consulted, he said Monday.

Powers said the receivership of the store is disappointing for the SPCA because it adopted out cats and dogs through the store.

All the SPCA pets were removed two months ago when the SPCA received notice of the financial troubles.

The store helped adopt out many animals, Powers said, which especially helped save kittens.

The cat population in metro, she said, is out of control.

The Petcetera website indicates the Canadian Petcetera Ltd. Par-tnership chain went into receivership in mid June with Price-waterhouseCoopers Inc. app-ointed the trustee and receiver manager.

It said the stores would be kept open through the liquidation process which has already started.

"During the liquidation period all animals in the receiver manager's care will be tended to by store staff in the usual manner," the notification states.

"The receiver manager has requested that the animal shelters and non-profit societies that provided animals to Petcetera to care for while awaiting adoption take these animals back into their custody. The small animals and fish purchased by Petcetera for resale will be sold, and in the meantime cared for by store staff in the same manner as before the receivership."

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Petcetera, Canadian Petcetera Ltd. Par

Geographic location: St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Amanda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Congrats to Ms. White for taking a stand on an issue that would have gone by unnoticed by most of the public had she not provided the information to both the media and the SPCA. I actually visited Petcetera late last week, upon hearing of their closing, and was surprised to find many small animals remaining in cages throughout the store, all appearing to still have regular selling prices. They sure weren't making a special attempt to find homes for those animals at that point, certainly no more so than normal, so I guess I can only hope that Petcetera is true to the statement they gave NTV yesterday, and actually do ensure that these animals receive homes and proper care, though I am doubtful that the statement was accurate when it was given - hard to believe that those animals were all sold between Friday evening and Monday afternoon...but I'm trying to give the benefit of the doubt at this point - HOWEVER, as a peron with both a great love and respect or animals of all variety, I do intend to check back with Petcetera to make certain that they have been truthful in their claims, and will make morally correct decisions concerning the remaining animals - I encourage all other animal lovers who read this to do the same thing! Let's not forget - this is a company that had trouble making the right decision- that is, until they were publically SHAMED into it! Maybe we should all try and stay away from this type of Chain Pet Store... I know that I will from now on!

  • Brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    What else would you expect from such a sleazy business like Petcetera?
    I tip my hat to the bravery of Melissa White and rest comfortably knowing that we have such caring people living amongst us for she is a real idol.

  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Stephen Hinchey from Paradise, NL writes: As of several days ago, there were still some fish in several of the tanks. Some were alone, small, and hard to notice. What will happen to them?


    Ches's?!?!?!

  • Robert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    It may very well be illegal for businesses to give pets away. There is evidence to suggest that pets that are purchased are less likely to be abused.

    If the animals cannot be sold what does this person suggest be done with these animals. It is never an easy decision but even the SPCA will strongly reccomend an animal be euthanized rather then leave it to an uncertain future.

    Being fired is a little extreme but it would seem that with closing soon to happen not much has been lost except maybe EI benefits.

  • Mikalah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Way to go Melissa, I wish we had more caring people like you!! Good luck in your future endeavors!

  • susan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    I think Melissa White did the right thing by calling the SPCA. Someone has to be the voice of those who cannot speak for them selves. Pets are not disposable, we are responsible for them. To euthanize a healthy little animal seems unimaginable. Give these animals a chance to become someone's pet. The are shelters that offer Foster Programs until permanent homes are found. Petcetera may have to close its doors but the hearts of animal lovers are always open.

  • Stephen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    As of several days ago, there were still some fish in several of the tanks. Some were alone, small, and hard to notice. What will happen to them?

  • Sunshine
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    It is great to see such an outpouring for our defenseless friends , I only wish we could channel some of that energy into some of the many other concerns facing the people of our province , foster children comes to mind.

  • Frustrated
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Let me say first that I applaud Ms. White for standing up for this situation.

    Although this article is not specifically about the St. John's SPCA and their relationship with Petcetera, I feel I must say my peace about a situation before Petcetera is closed and forgotten. The SPCA seems to be given pats-on-the-back for their work in adoptions through Petcetera but...You many have noticed that the room available for cat adoptions is OFTEN empty. Meanwhile, dozens of adoptable cats are being euthanized at the SPCA each week. Not only is this available source for adoptions negelected by the SPCA but a former staff member of Petcetera informed me that when Heavenly Creatures was contacted and subsequently placed a cat in the empty room to try and find it a home, the SPCA got very angry and the Heavenly Creatures cat was ordered to be removed immediately. The room, then, was empty again. Why, I wonder, would the St. John's SPCA decide to have access to empty, available space to help cats get adopted but opt to euthanize the animals instead. Are we to believe there were simply no cats availble to be placed in the room? or that death was a better option for these poor animals? I doubt it. And why then would said group of animal lovers get angry when the space was used to help save another cat from Heavenly Creatures? I sincerely hope there is a valid answer though I won't hold my breath.

  • Wally
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Petcetera sounds like they were a reputable, animal-loving organization. I bet that this ruthless attitude now being projected by the company can be traced directly back to the receivers/trustee, Price-WaterhouseCoopers Inc, not to the formerhead office or local management.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    This is not so much a commentary of business in the story above but about pet shops / breeders generally...

    The only real way to prevent the abuse of animals is to STOP buying from pet shops and breeders. Dog breeding is inherently dangerous to the animal. In order to maintain the pedigree, most breeders breed mother to sons, brothers and sisters and the list goes on... This results in the reduction of the gene pool and the amplification of genetic abnormalities. Many breeds today only partially resemble their predecessors from 120 yrs ago. They have been manipulated to the point where their physiology has become a detriment to their health. There was a documentary on BBC just a few nights ago about this practice and reputable geneticists have public spoke out about the ridiculous measures breeders go through to achieve an arbitrarily defined breed standard. The German Sheppard, for example, has have been bred to the point of the breed standard where their hind quarters (legs) are disproportionately small causing all sorts of legs and joint problems. King Charles Cavaliers have been bred to the point where their skulls are too small to house their brains, thus causing all sorts of neurological problems and pain. The bulldog and pug has been manipulated so much that they cannot breathe properly because their muzzle have been reduced to almost nothing. When is this ridiculous idea of the perfect dog going to end? I believe in the not too distant future, dogs shows are going to be held in the same regard as circuses with respect to their treatment of animals as it pertains to the maintenance of their idea of the breed standard.

  • Misty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    What a caring and lovely person you are Ms. White. Bless you for your concern for our little animal friends. As an animal lover I applaud you for speaking out. Wishing you every success in the future. We need more people like you.

  • Brooke
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Ms. White was absolutely right! A pet store sells pets and/or pet supplies for the sole purpose to fulfill the enjoyment of both the owner and pets lives, right? So why euthanize because of financial difficulties leading to store closures? Especially with an SPCA and many other pet agencies in town for example, Heavenly Creatures, Ruff Spots and the Humane Society? I am glad there are people like Ms. White who are more concerned with animals lives than the finances and liability of money-hungry companies. Shame on Petcetera! At least leave the animals at the SPCA and forget about them but let them live for heavens sake! I hope Ms. White finds further/better employment perhaps with the SPCA!

  • You Talkin To Me ?
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Ms. White simply did what Petcetera should have done, contact the SPCA. With a heavy handed crowd like Petcetera though, she probably should have brought her intentions to the attention of her employer. In any event, they're out of business. Good riddance.

  • Crista
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Good for her, hopefully because of the attention she has raised the store will rethink their actions. A friend and I were there last week and were wondering what was going to happen to all the birds - it's a shame that a store which promoted adoption and animal rescuse would view their small animals as disposable assets.

  • AnimalLover
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Petcetera is such a hole; I'm glad it's closing. Used to work there too, and there are so many things wrong there; I could write a list! Good Riddance.

  • Animal
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I do hope this media attention and the concerns raised about the remaining pets in this store will help to ensure the pets are placed in loving homes.

    It is too bad to see this store close. We need more pet businesses that will support animal rescue groups efforts in their adoption of pets such as cats and dogs.

    What we do not need in this city are pet stores that sell puppies and cats from puppy mills for outrageous prices with no health warranties or registration papers.

  • Noah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    So... when is the store closing for good? I would not want to miss The Running Of The Hamsters that'll be taking place at closing time.

  • Amanda
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Congrats to Ms. White for taking a stand on an issue that would have gone by unnoticed by most of the public had she not provided the information to both the media and the SPCA. I actually visited Petcetera late last week, upon hearing of their closing, and was surprised to find many small animals remaining in cages throughout the store, all appearing to still have regular selling prices. They sure weren't making a special attempt to find homes for those animals at that point, certainly no more so than normal, so I guess I can only hope that Petcetera is true to the statement they gave NTV yesterday, and actually do ensure that these animals receive homes and proper care, though I am doubtful that the statement was accurate when it was given - hard to believe that those animals were all sold between Friday evening and Monday afternoon...but I'm trying to give the benefit of the doubt at this point - HOWEVER, as a peron with both a great love and respect or animals of all variety, I do intend to check back with Petcetera to make certain that they have been truthful in their claims, and will make morally correct decisions concerning the remaining animals - I encourage all other animal lovers who read this to do the same thing! Let's not forget - this is a company that had trouble making the right decision- that is, until they were publically SHAMED into it! Maybe we should all try and stay away from this type of Chain Pet Store... I know that I will from now on!

  • Brian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    What else would you expect from such a sleazy business like Petcetera?
    I tip my hat to the bravery of Melissa White and rest comfortably knowing that we have such caring people living amongst us for she is a real idol.

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Stephen Hinchey from Paradise, NL writes: As of several days ago, there were still some fish in several of the tanks. Some were alone, small, and hard to notice. What will happen to them?


    Ches's?!?!?!

  • Robert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    It may very well be illegal for businesses to give pets away. There is evidence to suggest that pets that are purchased are less likely to be abused.

    If the animals cannot be sold what does this person suggest be done with these animals. It is never an easy decision but even the SPCA will strongly reccomend an animal be euthanized rather then leave it to an uncertain future.

    Being fired is a little extreme but it would seem that with closing soon to happen not much has been lost except maybe EI benefits.

  • Mikalah
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Way to go Melissa, I wish we had more caring people like you!! Good luck in your future endeavors!

  • susan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    I think Melissa White did the right thing by calling the SPCA. Someone has to be the voice of those who cannot speak for them selves. Pets are not disposable, we are responsible for them. To euthanize a healthy little animal seems unimaginable. Give these animals a chance to become someone's pet. The are shelters that offer Foster Programs until permanent homes are found. Petcetera may have to close its doors but the hearts of animal lovers are always open.

  • Stephen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    As of several days ago, there were still some fish in several of the tanks. Some were alone, small, and hard to notice. What will happen to them?

  • Sunshine
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    It is great to see such an outpouring for our defenseless friends , I only wish we could channel some of that energy into some of the many other concerns facing the people of our province , foster children comes to mind.

  • Frustrated
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Let me say first that I applaud Ms. White for standing up for this situation.

    Although this article is not specifically about the St. John's SPCA and their relationship with Petcetera, I feel I must say my peace about a situation before Petcetera is closed and forgotten. The SPCA seems to be given pats-on-the-back for their work in adoptions through Petcetera but...You many have noticed that the room available for cat adoptions is OFTEN empty. Meanwhile, dozens of adoptable cats are being euthanized at the SPCA each week. Not only is this available source for adoptions negelected by the SPCA but a former staff member of Petcetera informed me that when Heavenly Creatures was contacted and subsequently placed a cat in the empty room to try and find it a home, the SPCA got very angry and the Heavenly Creatures cat was ordered to be removed immediately. The room, then, was empty again. Why, I wonder, would the St. John's SPCA decide to have access to empty, available space to help cats get adopted but opt to euthanize the animals instead. Are we to believe there were simply no cats availble to be placed in the room? or that death was a better option for these poor animals? I doubt it. And why then would said group of animal lovers get angry when the space was used to help save another cat from Heavenly Creatures? I sincerely hope there is a valid answer though I won't hold my breath.

  • Wally
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Petcetera sounds like they were a reputable, animal-loving organization. I bet that this ruthless attitude now being projected by the company can be traced directly back to the receivers/trustee, Price-WaterhouseCoopers Inc, not to the formerhead office or local management.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    This is not so much a commentary of business in the story above but about pet shops / breeders generally...

    The only real way to prevent the abuse of animals is to STOP buying from pet shops and breeders. Dog breeding is inherently dangerous to the animal. In order to maintain the pedigree, most breeders breed mother to sons, brothers and sisters and the list goes on... This results in the reduction of the gene pool and the amplification of genetic abnormalities. Many breeds today only partially resemble their predecessors from 120 yrs ago. They have been manipulated to the point where their physiology has become a detriment to their health. There was a documentary on BBC just a few nights ago about this practice and reputable geneticists have public spoke out about the ridiculous measures breeders go through to achieve an arbitrarily defined breed standard. The German Sheppard, for example, has have been bred to the point of the breed standard where their hind quarters (legs) are disproportionately small causing all sorts of legs and joint problems. King Charles Cavaliers have been bred to the point where their skulls are too small to house their brains, thus causing all sorts of neurological problems and pain. The bulldog and pug has been manipulated so much that they cannot breathe properly because their muzzle have been reduced to almost nothing. When is this ridiculous idea of the perfect dog going to end? I believe in the not too distant future, dogs shows are going to be held in the same regard as circuses with respect to their treatment of animals as it pertains to the maintenance of their idea of the breed standard.

  • Misty
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    What a caring and lovely person you are Ms. White. Bless you for your concern for our little animal friends. As an animal lover I applaud you for speaking out. Wishing you every success in the future. We need more people like you.

  • Brooke
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Ms. White was absolutely right! A pet store sells pets and/or pet supplies for the sole purpose to fulfill the enjoyment of both the owner and pets lives, right? So why euthanize because of financial difficulties leading to store closures? Especially with an SPCA and many other pet agencies in town for example, Heavenly Creatures, Ruff Spots and the Humane Society? I am glad there are people like Ms. White who are more concerned with animals lives than the finances and liability of money-hungry companies. Shame on Petcetera! At least leave the animals at the SPCA and forget about them but let them live for heavens sake! I hope Ms. White finds further/better employment perhaps with the SPCA!

  • You Talkin To Me ?
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Ms. White simply did what Petcetera should have done, contact the SPCA. With a heavy handed crowd like Petcetera though, she probably should have brought her intentions to the attention of her employer. In any event, they're out of business. Good riddance.

  • Crista
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Good for her, hopefully because of the attention she has raised the store will rethink their actions. A friend and I were there last week and were wondering what was going to happen to all the birds - it's a shame that a store which promoted adoption and animal rescuse would view their small animals as disposable assets.

  • AnimalLover
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Petcetera is such a hole; I'm glad it's closing. Used to work there too, and there are so many things wrong there; I could write a list! Good Riddance.

  • Animal
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I do hope this media attention and the concerns raised about the remaining pets in this store will help to ensure the pets are placed in loving homes.

    It is too bad to see this store close. We need more pet businesses that will support animal rescue groups efforts in their adoption of pets such as cats and dogs.

    What we do not need in this city are pet stores that sell puppies and cats from puppy mills for outrageous prices with no health warranties or registration papers.

  • Noah
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    So... when is the store closing for good? I would not want to miss The Running Of The Hamsters that'll be taking place at closing time.